Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DARE for planetary exploration

06.11.2002


Balloons outfitted with innovative steering devices and robot probes could be the future of planetary exploration. Dr. Alexey Pankine, a fellow at the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), presented an analysis of balloon applications for planetary science at the World Space Congress in Houston, Texas last month. His study, entitled Directed Aerial Robot Explorers or DARE, is funded by NIAC.



At the center of the DARE concept are balloons that can float in planetary atmospheres for many days. Balloons have long been recognized as low-cost observational platforms and are routinely used in observations of the Earth’s atmosphere. In 1984, two balloons were successfully deployed in the atmosphere of Venus for a short mission. However, what has restrained the wider use of balloons in planetary exploration was the inability to control their paths in strong atmospheric winds. Attaching an engine to a balloon would convert it into an airship and make it too heavy, too power dependent and too expensive to send to another planet or high into the atmosphere.

Faced with this problem, Global Aerospace Corporation has proposed to use an innovative device called the StratoSail® that allows the user to control the path of a planetary balloon. The device is essentially a wing that hangs on a long tether (several kilometers) below the balloon. Strong winds and denser atmosphere at the wing altitude create a sideways lifting force that pulls the entire system across the winds.


The DARE concept analyzes the use of the StratoSail® device on several planets in our Solar System that have atmosphere – Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Titan (a satellite of Saturn). Dr. Pankine reports that a small, light wing will pull the balloon with a velocity of about 1 m/s across the winds on those planets. This may not seem much, but applied constantly (without consuming any power!) for the duration of a long mission (100 days) it would allow for pole-to-pole exploration of the atmospheres of Venus and Titan, and targeted observations of Mars and the vast Great Red Spot of Jupiter.

DARE platforms would carry high-resolution cameras and other instruments to study surfaces and atmospheres of the planets. Dr. Pankine envisions small probes being deployed from DARE platforms over a site of interest. These robot-probes would, for example, analyze atmosphere during their descent on Venus and Jupiter or crawl around after soft landing on the surfaces of Mars and Titan.

“The ability to alter the flight path in the atmosphere and to deploy the probes would vastly expand the capabilities of planetary balloons and make possible breakthrough observations that are not feasible with any other platform,” says Dr. Pankine. The figure illustrates a DARE platform operating at Venus.

Alexey A. Pankine | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gaerospace.com/press-releases/nov2002.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate Change in West Africa
17.06.2019 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before
13.06.2019 | Technische Universität Graz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Novel communications architecture for future ultra-high speed wireless networks

17.06.2019 | Information Technology

Climate Change in West Africa

17.06.2019 | Earth Sciences

Robotic fish to replace animal testing

17.06.2019 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>